From protests in San Francisco to the cushion at EBMC, Sangha member and teacher René Rivera shares their journey finding a place of refuge for our Season Of Gratitude:
By the time I was five years old I had lived at least a dozen places. By the time I graduated from high school I had lived more in more than two dozen places. I was born in San Francisco in 1968, at a time when it seemed to my parents that the revolution was coming. While my father organized in the La Raza movement in the Mission, we were often evicted.
When my parents separated, my mother joined the land communes in Mendocino County, and I moved between rural white commune life and protests in San Francisco. It was a time for me that was frighteningly chaotic.
Telling a wise person some years ago about the chaos of my early life, he remarked that perhaps this life is one for me to learn what home is. That comment has since stuck with me. I did not grow up with any sense or experience of home. When I first came to the East Bay Meditation Center in 2008, Larry Yang invited me to consider EBMC as my spiritual home. At the time I did not know what this meant, or how big of an impact EBMC would have on my life.
Ten years later, I know in my bones what home is thanks to finding EBMC, a place where I can show up as all of who I am, in a community that accepts me fully. It took me many years and stages of deepening my practice – through Commit 2 Dharma and Practice in Transformative Action programs, Alphabet Sangha and Trans* and Genderqueer Deep Refuge group, and leadership roles on the EBMC Board and Generosity Committee – to really feel the refuge of home that EBMC is.
Today when I come through the doors of EBMC, this refuge of home is something that I draw deep into my lungs with each breath. I feel it in the way the floor rises up to support my body, and in the way I am held in this beloved community.
As we are now in a time of all too familiar fear and chaos, EBMC brings me hope. Imagining a future where we care for one another as family, and where we resource ourselves through generosity instead of capitalism, is more crucial than ever.
Through the model of Gift Economics, EBMC shows us an alternate future where love is ascendent over fear and hatred. For Gift Economics to thrive, it requires all of us to participate. I hope you will join me in making this regular practice of generosity to sustain and grow this unique space of refuge.
PS- I have been a Friend of EBMC Monthly Donor since the program started back in 2009. It gives me such joy to know that I am helping to cultivate this refuge of home at EBMC every month, regardless of how often I am able to physically attend. Please join me in offering ongoing generosity to sustain this space of refuge.
Gift Economics at EBMC means that all who are seeking a space of refuge are welcome, regardless of their ability to pay. Instead, Gift Economics necessitates that we all give to the extent that we are able, at the highest level we can, to support our Sangha as a whole. As René calls it, it’s a way of caring for one another as family, through the practice of generosity.
Will you join René in caring for our Sangha and place of refuge by making a one-time gift or becoming a monthly sustain today? Until the end of the year, every dollar you give will be doubled- dollar for dollar!
Thank you for supporting our center through your practice of care and generosity.